Bernie Madoff Pleads Guilty: Next Stop, the Big House?

Now that infamous financier Bernard Madoff has pleaded guilty on 11 counts of fraud, money laundering, perjury, and theft — carrying a maximum sentence of 150 years — it looks like he may have to trade in his business suits for a standard-issue prison jumpsuit.

What awaits him behind bars?

One person who would know is Jennifer Wilkov, a law-abiding professional who spent four months in the notoriously violent Rikers Island prison after being accused of real estate fraud, even though she tells Marie Claire in a riveting essay that she was not guilty.

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"If you can survive this place, you can survive anything," one of the prison guards told her. She told us about her preparation for her sentence ("I sought advice from self-defense experts, and enlisted them to shout insults in my face so I could practice my response"), and her experience behind bars, dealing with fellow prisoners and managing her Crohn's disease on a diet of bread and fried chicken quarters that the prisoners dubbed "seagull meat."

Read about her experience, from the day of her arrest to the last day of her four-month prison sentence, and find out what really happens behind bars.

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